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Crackdown urged on revenge porn 'upskirting' craze

'Upskirting' offenders take pictures up women's skirts and distribute them. Photo: PA

New revenge porn laws should be extended to cover the cruel craze of "upskirting", experts have said.

The offence consists of taking pictures up women's skirts in public places and then distributing them without their consent.

The new law was enacted on April 13 after months of campaigning from revenge porn victims, making the practice illegal and offering sentences of up to two years in jail for perpetrators.

But at the UK's first seminar on revenge porn today, victims, activists and legal experts said the legislation needed to be extended to cover other forms of sexual offending.

Technology companies were also urged to clamp down on those who spread revenge porn, described as sexually or explicitly images shared without the consent of the victim.

Clare McGlynn, professor in law at Durham University, said:

This is a very welcome law, but it is limited because it just responded to an ad-hoc example of a broader phenomenon of non-consensual pornography.

It doesn't cover generally what's called 'upskirting', taking pictures up women's skirts in public places and then distributing them without their consent. The current law does not cover that and it is problematic.

– Clare McGlynn
Experts said 'upskirting' violates victims' right to privacy. Credit: PA

Some cases of upskirting have been brought before the courts but only when they fall under other existing laws, such as voyeurism.

Professor McGlynn said:

It does not include public places like the beach or on the tube, or going about your daily business in public.

This is an old problem of taking images and harassing women. But technology is giving us new ways to perpetuate old harms.

– Clare McGlynn

Campaigners have warned that revenge porn could become as prevalent in society as other forms of abuse against women.

Ann Olivarius, senior partner at London-based law firm McAllister Olivarius which represents victims of revenge porn, said the new law was a "wonderful first step" but required tightening.

Revenge porn has all the characteristics of becoming a powerful form of violence towards women. It already seems to be in epidemic proportions.

– Ann Olivarius